The Russian Sukhoi Su-34 “Fullback” is one of those aircraft that truly has to be seen to be believed. Designed to replace the aging Su-24, the Su-34 is actually a variant of the Sukhoi Su-27, with side-by-side seating that was developed in the late 1980s, and making its first flight on April 13th, 1990. It has a complex development history, being first developed as a carrier-based trainer, but by the time it was first publicly revealed in the mid-1990s it was as the Su-27IB (IB standing for Istrebitel Bomardirvoschik / Fighter Bomber), an advanced strike aircraft. Sukhoi, seeking export customers for the aircraft, has shown it as both the Su-32FN (FN for “Fighter, Naval”) and the Su-34. Its proposed export designation may be Su-32MF (MnogoFunktsionalniy, multi-function). At present its official designation appears to be Su-34. Its oddly shaped nose, said to be semi-stealthy, is reminiscent of that of the SR-71 Blackbird, and has earned it the nickname “Platypus,” although its NATO reporting name is Fullback.
Interstingly its flight deck is larger than the one built for the much larger Tu-160 “Blackjack”, a supersonic, variable sweep wing heavy strategic bomber designed for long endurance, intercontinental flights. The Fullback’s flight deck even has space for a galley, a latrine, and a bunk bed, all the comforts of home for bombing enemy positions within reach of its base of operations.
The Su-34 has 12 stores pylons for up to 8,000 kilograms (17,635 pounds) of ordnance, intended to include the latest Russian precision-guided weapons. It retains the Su-27/Su-30’s 30mm cannon. A Leninets V004 phased-array radar is fitted, mated to a Platan electro-optical / laser targeting unit and an advanced nav-attack system. It shares the Su-35’s “stinger” tail with Leninets V005 rear-facing radar.
Hobby Master’s first look at the Fullback portrays a bomber that was recently deployed to Khmeimim Air Base, Latakia, Syria, in support of the Assad regime (HA6301). Look for it to lay waste to the opposition some time in January.